Joe Palooka started life as a comic strip about a heavyweight boxing champion and was created by the cartoonist Ham Fisher in 1921. Joe Palooka was based on the boxer, Pete Latzo, who Ham Fisher met outside a pool room. The word 'palooka' was in use at the time and meant a boxer with little style or ability.
It took nine years and many rejections before the strip was finally syndicated to 20 newspapers, debuting on April 19, 1930. Apart from Joe Palooka, other regular characters were Joe's girlfriend Ann Howe, his boxing manager Knobby Walsh, Little Max a mute orphan and the giant blacksmith Humphrey Pennyworth. The strip became extremely popular and spawned a radio series, 12 feature-length films, 9 film shorts and a television series along with various items of merchandising.
Over time Joe Palooka also appeared in several different comic books. The earlier editions were just reprints of the strip, but later Joe Palooka appeared in original comic book stories.
Ham Fisher committed suicide in 1955. His assistant Mo Leff then drew the strip for four years, after which the art work was taken over by Tony DiPreta with Morris Weiss responsible for the scripting. Tony DiPreta then drew the strip for the next 25 years until its run ended on November 24, 1984.
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